Newbie with a coop question

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Concordmommy, Apr 7, 2009.

  1. Concordmommy

    Concordmommy Songster

    Apr 7, 2009
    Hi all--

    LOVE ya BYC! Dh isn't so into it, but I'm gonna switch him.

    I'm planning on building a chicken tractor, probably an A-frame one that is super easy to build. Something for three to four girls. I will need something that is moveable, because our local ordinances say the coop has to be 25 feet from the property line. So I figure something moveable is best.

    One of my many questions is this--for a tractor like that, what is required in the way of pest-proofing the bottom against diggers? Should I add some kind of mesh skirt 6 inches in each direction? Or do you actually put mesh on the floor too?

    Still researching...but I miss having chickens. I grew up on a farm and we had tons.


  2. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator Staff Member

    Apr 21, 2008
    West Michigan
    I've seen tractors with hardware cloth attached to the bottom. Other tractors may have a solid floor and be on skids for moving around.

    Have you looked at the Coop Designs pages here yet? There is a whole section of tractor designs that may inspire you. [​IMG]
  3. Concordmommy

    Concordmommy Songster

    Apr 7, 2009
    Yes, I started in the gallery! [​IMG]

    So if you have hardware cloth on the bottom are the chickens still able to eat the grass and bugs okay? I'd love to give them the benefit of the grass and also some protection from the racoons and possums that we ttend to get in our neighborhood.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    You have different options. You can build a tractor that is a lot like a garden implement. The bottom is open, you can take it to the garden and the chickens will clear any green stuff, fertilize the area, and till the area as they scratch after the worms and buried bugs. These are hard to protect from predators. You could come up with some type of panels that raise up when you move the tractor or have panels that you detach and move separately, but you add to the weight, complexity, and/or physical work to move the tractor.

    I think what you are looking at may be something a little different, a moveable safe haven or fortress. Some people call those arks. If you are going that route, I would use hardware cloth on the bottom. A raccoon can partially pull a chicken through bigger wire. That is not a good way to go. With the hardware cloth on the bottom, the chickens can still eat the grass and some of the bugs, but they will not be able to scratch after the worms and buried bugs or till their poop into the soil. Another difference is that, with an open bottom, the chickens can learn to walk along as the tractor is being moved. If the bottom is closed off with wire, you need to either take the chickens out when you move it or secure them where they cannot get to the wire. Otherwise, they could severely damage their feet and legs.

    I'm being kind of simplistic. There are many variations of this theme. You might come up with a coop and run that are moved separately, a fixed coop and a moveable run, an arc-type structure but with a separate open-bottomed run that you let them in when you are around. Once you get the basic principles down, you are only limited by your imagination or maybe your pocketbook.

    It looks like you are doing your homework, which means you will probably be successful. Welcome to the forum.
  5. Chick_a_dee

    Chick_a_dee Songster

    May 23, 2008
    Peterborough, ON
    I would be very interested in this as I'm in the planning stages of a large scale chicken tractor for my 25 meaties that are coming in May. They need a tractor that they could be left out in at night, the tractor would be located in a motion sensitive lighted area within the layer chickens run at night, but as we know a racoon can climb fences so there is always a possibility.
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Can I suggest that you consider a non A-frame style? A-frames really are not a very good design from anything other than an aesthetic standpoint. It is really not meaningfully harder to build a rectangular box style tractor, nor does it take meaningfully more materials, and the space in a box style tractor is MUCH more thoroughly useable than in an A-frame. (The long edges, where the wall slants down, don't let a chicken stand upright next to the wall...)

    If you haven't already, check out the tractor section of the coop design part of this site (link at very tippy top of this page), check out some of the options.

    One of my many questions is this--for a tractor like that, what is required in the way of pest-proofing the bottom against diggers? Should I add some kind of mesh skirt 6 inches in each direction? Or do you actually put mesh on the floor too?

    Partly it depends whether you're going to lock them into the 'house' part of the tractor at night (highly recommended for safety). If so, you can get away with less-serious digproofing, such as a 6-12" skirt or even none at all if you are feeling Really Really Lucky. If the door to the run part of the tractor will be hanging open all night, I'd suggest the widest skirt you can deal with, possibly hinged to flip up for easier moving of the tractor. And that still may not be enough to keep the chickens safe.

    You don't want a mesh floor on the tractor. Primarily b/c it makes the tractor almost impossible to move -- the chickens need to be able to walk along with the tractor as you move it, you won't be able to lift it up with them standing on mesh and if you did you'd risk severely injuring their toes/feet when you put it back down. Also, scratching in the dirt is such an essential part of chickenhood that it seems a shame to keep them from doing it.

    Good luck, have fun, welcome to BYC,


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